Population Control, Anti-Conversion Laws Based on False Premises: Studies

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The studies claim that both the issues have been weaponised targeting religious minorities, especially Muslims, and scaring the majority Hindu community.

Ghazala Ahmad | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Various anti-conversion laws enacted by different states and the recent Population Control Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) are based on false premises, two published review papers have revealed.

The two papers were launched here on Tuesday at a press conference organised by the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) in collaboration with the Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT).

The study on Anti-Conversion Law was conducted by Arshad Khan, a law student at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). Shayma S. and Javed Ali, researchers at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), were the authors of the paper on Population Control Bill.

The two studies looked into the data about population growth of various communities and concluded that it was not religion but access to healthcare and education that determines the fertility ratio.

The papers have been published by the SIO and the CERT to belie various claims made by several state governments about population growth and religious conversions.

The studies claim that both the issues have been weaponised targeting religious minorities, especially Muslims, and scaring the majority Hindu community.

Speaking at the launch of these papers, SIO General Secretary Syed Ahmed Muzakkir, said: “Our country is going through some very trying times, our economic growth is stunted, there are issues of income redistribution, there is a question mark over equitable access of education and healthcare, especially for the marginalised sections of society.”

In such a scenario, he said, vested interests are focusing on creating mistrust between different communities and exploiting the situation for their narrow political gains. “A major area in the discourse of hatred is demographic anxiety,” he claimed.

“Two flashpoint issues in this regard are repeatedly used to hype up the issue and create discord. One is religious conversion and another is population growth. Both are interlinked to the issue of demographic anxiety in the majority community. Hence, we undertook these studies,” he added.

“The Population Control Bill has been weaponized against Muslims of the country, when the reality is that the population replacement ratio of Muslims is 2:3, only slightly higher than the national average of 2:1. And even this ratio is steadily declining and approaching the national average. Despite that, a myth has been created about the exponential rise in the Muslim population to scare a majority of Hindus into thinking that minorities will outnumber them soon. Nothing can be farther from the truth,” said Muzakkir.

CERT Director Fawaz Shaheen said the reasons advanced by state governments for the enactment of these laws include ‘Love Jihad’ – the phrase coined by the media which has no evidence and the courts have categorically rejected this.

“The constitution ensures freedom of religion, including its propagation. Anti-conversion laws endanger the freedom of religion. These laws are said to be a safeguard against conversion by force which is not even backed by any reliable source or statistical data. By weaponising the phrase Love Jihad, state governments are trying to create fear psychosis in the majority community,” he said.

The proposed population control legislation, Shaheen added, seeks to penalise families with more than two kids by depriving them of the benefits of government schemes. This is a disastrous approach, as most of these families are from marginalised sections of society and most in need of these benefits. The government should prioritise providing these basic facilities. Instead of using brute force of law, governments should focus on education and awareness to regularise the population of the country.”

The studies concluded that these legislations work only to deny a fundamental human instinct by exposing a person to penalties for exercising his freedom and conscience.

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Cover photo: The Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) in collaboration with the Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT) launched the two study papers on Tuesday at a press conference in New Delhi.

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